A Christmas Message for Harbison
I want us to take a moment and look around who is gathered here today. We are such a diverse group of people. Young. Not so young. Different cultures. Different languages. Different personal
preferences. Different beliefs. Different hopes and dreams.
Yet today we come together as a community — the Harbison family if you like — because of an historical event that happened over 2000 years ago — the birth of Jesus.
Christmas is a time when we can lay aside our differences and focus on what we have in common, and enjoy one another.
This year is 100 years since the end of WWI. I wanted to recall an amazing event that took place in the trenches on the Western Front in 1914 on Christmas Eve. Many may know this story:
The sounds of gun fire and shells faded away and German and Allied soldiers started singing Christmas carols to each other. As dawn came soldiers emerged from both sides into no man’s land, shook hands, shared small gifts of cigarettes and treats and some historical records document soldiers playing soccer
This story is powerfully expressed in the poem by Geoff Skellon’s ‘The Truce in the Trenches’ (below).
Every one of us has a longing to be loved, accepted and nurtured. Every one of us have the capacity to give these gifts to others. Our challenge is to give them freely this Christmas.
The Christmas Truce in the Trenches
By Geoff Skellon
It was Christmas Day in the trenches,
All was silent and stilled
As the soldiers stood waiting their orders
To go out and kill or be killed.
When a sound drifted over the wasteland
From the German lines close by
T’was the sound of a solder singing,
His voice sounding clear and high.
And their hearts stirred with wonderful memories
Of their Christmas days in the past
And the families and friends left behind
In a peace time that wasn’t to last.
The words were strange and foreign
But the tune was the one we all know,
A carol that tells the story
Of a Silent Night long ago.
They joined in singing together
Raising their voices in praise
Using words familiar from Blighty
They’d learned in their younger days
Then one by one they left hiding
And faced their enemies there
‘Till the hatred they felt slowly melted
In a comradeship all of them shared
All down the front line it happened
The soldiers once ready to kill
Lay down their guns and gave hand shakes
Exchanging gifts and good will
So why can’t we all make the effort
To find peace and friendship at last
And remember the lesson they taught us
On that Silent Night long passed…